“I’m never going to be fat!” I announced to my parents. I was ten years old.
Sometime after that, I finished my dinner and had a huge bowl of ice cream…with lots of chocolate syrup on top. As soon as I took that last bite, I began to feel guilty. I ran outside, pulled up my shirt, and looked at my reflection in the driver’s side door window of my dad’s car. I watched my belly as if it was going to do something besides go in and out as I breathed.
It didn’t, but I was examining it like a detective looking for clues. Was I already fat? I suppose I convinced myself I was, or at least getting there. So, I did the next logical thing. Around the perimeter of our 2.5 acre yard, I put up obstacles; a wheel barrow, a lawn chair, a push lawn mower, anything that I would have to either run around or climb on. I even used permanent structures like our two tool sheds. I commenced my routine, climbing up and jumping off the roofs of the two sheds and running around the perimeter going over all the obstacles I had strewn about. I did this for at least a half hour, maybe more.
I suppose a lot of people would look upon this behavior as rather OCD. Could be. On the other hand, perhaps I was destined to be a trainer.
I think all trainers, and other people who want to perfect a craft, whether it be health and fitness, music, a work of art, whatever, tend to lean towards the OCD end of the scale because we want our craft to be as perfect as we can humanly make it.
My dad wanted me to get into strength training years before I did. He did succeed into getting me into martial arts. After practicing tae-kwon-do and hapkido for a couple of decades, it dawned on me that perhaps my punching and kicking would be better if I was stronger. That’s when the strength training began. It did improve my skill and performance and I also liked the way I was feeling…and looking.
I began to get compliments in the gym and at work on how I looked. I have to admit, that felt really good and all of this was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Up to this point, all of my weight lifting knowledge came from books and knowledge I received from asking other people in the gym.
The thought occurred to me, “I wonder if I could make a living at this?” That’s what started my journey to becoming a personal trainer. And I have to admit, part of it was selfish. I wanted to improve my knowledge on how I could workout better and improve myself more. But that quickly changed.
I used to teach school for a living and I lived for that “Aha!” moment that you see in a student’s eyes when he or she finally gets a concept you are trying to get across. I still live for that moment. When one of my clients gets the right form doing a squat or a bench press or some other exercise, that’s exciting. Even more exciting is when they tell you how their lives are changing for the better: “I feel stronger.” “That little bulge around my middle is going down.” “People at work are telling me how great I look.” These kinds of things make me feel good, but then I get these other little nuggets from time to time that tell me, with God’s help, I’m really making a difference in people’s lives.
My clients tell me: “I wasn’t able to do that before and now I can.” It may be getting up from the floor without assistance, or pain, or just being able to put a heavy box on the top shelf of their closet. The one I will always remember was an elderly gentleman who was having trouble with his balance and was afraid to walk down the hard, tiled corridor of his office building fearing he would fall and injure himself. He made my day when he came into this one particular training session and announced, “Today, I actually felt like skipping down the hall.” Skipping! I suppose what gets me up and keeps me passionate about this job, no, career, no service, is that – helping people and the joy I receive from it. So, I suppose it’s still a little bit selfish, but not totally. After all, it is a win-win situation.